Ahead of their Edge Hill Arts Centre showcase this Saturday, Getintothis’ Mark Greenwood talks to Carl Hunter about the Label Recordings.
With a plethora of independent labels and publishing platforms emerging in recent years it can be confusing for the record buying punter, confronted with a variety of media platforms. The ritual of selecting and buying records can be the audiophile’s equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack.
As a teenager there was nothing better than venturing into town, with a restricted budget, to rummage through record shops for treasure, diminishing and condensing your scattered search into a single purchase. The voyage home was always memorable, unpeeling the various layers of artwork, lyrics and text wrapped, around a slab of vinyl. It was a magical experience, setting an important, pre-liminal context to the event of listening and imagining.
These acts of listening and imagining are essential to Carl Hunter, the man behind The Label Recordings, an independent record label based at Edge Hill University.
“The label was set up three years ago as an entity to champion new and emerging songwriters and bands, as well as allowing them to develop and flourish in a professional context. We were hearing that a lot of bands couldn’t get signed because they didn’t have a huge profile on social media platforms and we thought fuck that!
“We’re more interested in the songs. We’d rather take a risk on an unknown, with no interest in recouping money as such, and this pays dividends for the bands in terms of getting their material out there and finding an audience.”
Indeed, these risks have played out well with a thriving portfolio of bands and songwriters including the likes of Hooton Tennis Club, The Inkhearts, Ali Horn, Oranj Son, Shrinking Minds and Youth Hostel.
“We’re constantly moving forward and embracing a range of sounds; from psych punk to indie pop, alt-folk to industrial” says Carl. “The bands are getting a lot of quality radio play and great support from Sound City where we have our own stage, but there’s also a real focus on the artwork and the packaging of the records themselves.
“I actually come from an art school background so it’s really important for me to create a really compelling art object that fits with the music in a material sense. I have an excellent team of young designers on board at Edge Hill University and they’re really dedicated to the production of quality artworks that show respect to the bands and their music.”
We ask Carl if there’s maybe a kind of political dimension lurking behind the independent ethos of the label that harks back to DIY, punk sensibilities that emerged from the 1960s onwards. He said “I think the music industry is dominated by the middle classes and there’s far too much emphasis on the balance sheet. We want to be inclusive, not exclusive…affording opportunities to artists who want to develop creatively…but because of the financial nature of the record industry, they might feel restricted in what they can achieve.”
“We’re trying to address that, not only through the label, put through our events which incorporate a range of media, spoken word poets, projections and DJ’s to give the events more of a ‘happening’ feel, rather than being a standard music gig.”
The Label Recordings presents a special showcase event at The Arts Centre EHU on March 4 featuring Shrinking Minds, Oranj Son, Ali Horn and Youth Hostel.